Since the start of 2003, the ICAEW and ICAS have seen firms registering for audit fall by an aggregate of 10%, compared with just 2% at ACCA.
The news prompted speculation that firms could be migrating between institutes at a time when the change to the audit threshold has hit business.
‘Clearly there’s some voting with feet going on. If firms are prepared to maintain registration with dwindling audits they will want to make sure the regulator is effective because costs are being spread over fewer clients,’ said Peter Large, ACCA executive director for professional standards. ACCA did not believe in ‘chopping off heads’ at the first sign of trouble, he added.
Peter Burton, head of regulatory policy at the ICAEW, said: ‘This is just a continuation of the decrease in the number of overall audit firms. There are many reasons for this, but the obvious one is the impact of (increased) audit exemption.’
At least one mid-tier registrant is believed to currently be applying to move to ICAS from the ICAEW. The Scottish institute said its level of registrants was ‘holding up’ despite the rise in the audit threshold.
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